Monday, 14 January 2019

The Greenway is now Quietway 22

The Greenway is a footpath and cycleway running for nearly five miles from Old Ford to Beckton, located on top of the Northern Outfall Sewer, which was built in the mid to late 1800's. Recently this five mile stretch has been renamed "Quietway 22", at a cost of £4.5m, and I suspect that TfL are declaring this upgrade as part of their "we've doubled the amount of protected space delivered under the previous mayor" claim.Whilst that would be a very dishonest thing for them to do there have been some improvements to the Greenway recently as part of the re-branding.

I first cycled on the Greenway back in 2003 when the section from Old ford, which currently cuts through the Olympic Park, went through the Marshgate Lane industrial estate instead. Back then this section was just a narrow shared path, in a pretty poor condition and littered with burnt out mopeds. Fast forward a few years and construction of the Olympic Park began, with the Greenway freshly resurfaced as it was used as a route for construction workers to access the park via Pudding Mill Lane DLR station, as well as a destination for people to view construction of the park, with a cafe built out of shipping containers opening in late 2009. During the Olympic Games there were plans for the Greenway to form two of the entrances for spectators to the games; for those on bike coming from Victoria Park and also for people coming via underground from West Ham station. Therefore in preparation the entire stretch from Old Ford to West Ham was upgraded prior to the Olympics, with separate paths for those on foot and on bike


As part of Quietway 22 lightning and CCTV has recently been installed to allow this route to be used 24 hours a day


The Greenway is dissected as the Great Eastern Railway and DLR lines cross it, this used to require a short diversion down to Marshgate Lane, before rejoining the Greenway immediately after the railway bridge

Marshgate Lane at the bottom of the Greenway in 2007
Marshgate Lane at the bottom of the Greenway in 2019

However this section of the Greenway, from Marshgate Lane to Stratford High Street, has been closed since 2009; initially for Olympic Park construction works, Crossrail then kept it closed and now Thames Water have taken over, meaning this stretch will soon notch up a decade of being closed, with no reopening date in sight. A new ramp was built several years ago from Marshgate Lane to the Greenway but remains fenced off


Prior to the closure of this section of the Greenway there was another barrier at Stratford High Street, literally barriers in the middle of a six lane road, meaning you had to cycle on the shared use pavement to Abbey Road to use the staggered crossing and return on the pavement on the other side of the road. The Olympic transport planners really wanted spectators to travel via West Ham and walk to the park along the Greenway, rather than use the Central or Jubilee line and risk overcrowding at Stratford. Therefore the West Ham route was heavily publicised, with the green sections of the greenway completely covered in asphalt and a new footbridge installed over Stratford High Street (visible on Streetview here) as well as a brand new direct pedestrian crossing underneath for those in wheelchairs or other mobility problems. A real shame then that the footbridge and direct crossing were only there for a few weeks of games time. The bridge was moved to the former coach park alongside for a few months before being dismantled and the direct crossing was reconfigured as a staggered crossing. Whilst a crossing does now exist for when the Greenway reopens at Stratford High Street, it'll take quite a bit longer to cross than it did during the games

I feel it is a missed opportunity that the bridge here was not constructed as a permanent walking and cycling bridge, as has been achieved over Eastway, between Hackney Marshes and the northern section of the Olympic Park. On the bright side Stratford High Street does now have protected cycle tracks on it, constructed in 2013, extended to Aldgate in 2016 and currently being extended into the centre of Stratford 

The (rather narrow) separate cycling and walking paths continue to West Ham station, with green mostly restored



Shortly before West Ham station the steps at Abbey Road have been replaced with a ramp



Leading to a new toucan crossing which links up with a resurfaced Channelsea path, on top of the culverted Channelsea River, which (almost) links up with Stratford High Street



Back on the Greenway and the separate cycling and walking paths stop as soon as you pass the steps and long ramp to West Ham station and the Greenway looks very much the same as it did when I first cycled here over 15 years ago, except with lightning added and the odd "Q22" sign added to the light columns


And a new ramp down to the path through rugby pitches and the Plaistow memorial recreation ground



We then come to Upper Road where a toucan crossing greets us, after negotiating the various barriers designed to keep motor vehicles out



Most people don't bother to push the button and wait for the green man, instead opting to cross this not-very-busy road unassisted. It isn't a main road so a disappointment that as part of the quietway upgrade a tiger crossing wasn't installed, giving pedestrians and cyclist priority over motor vehicles.

A tiger crossing on the much busier Lower Clapton Road in Hackney, as part of Quietway 2
500m later we cross Balaam Street, where barriers force you to cycle a short distance along the pavement to reach the crossing, which is very mush favoured towards motor traffic on the road rather the pedestrians and cyclists on the greenway, so a lengthy wait can ensue



A helpful local resident has felt the need to install warnings that you might well be mugged at knifepoint here, a reminder that quietways are not always the best solution and why protected cycle tracks are required on main roads nearby also.



200m later we have to cross Barking Road, quite a busy road, again requiring you to cycle a short distance on the pavement to reach the crossing


and less than 200m on we have to cross Prince Regent Lane, our 4th signalled crossing in less than a kilometre


The route does then continue for the next 2km to the A13 junction at Beckton, where it meets Cycle Superhighway 3, obstruction free, except for one road crossing on a bus only route to Newham General Hospital, so a very quiet road but I still think priority should be given to the Greenway here, rather than the road.



Another new ramp has been constructed down to Lonsdale Avenue 

The new ramp under construction in the summer of 2018, now complete
Queitway 22 ends at the A13 Beckton Junction (although the Greenway continues onto Beckton sewage works) so connects up with Cycle Superhighway 3, which runs alongside the A13. This can take you to Barking heading east and to Canning Town if going west (or even as far as Paddington if you're willing to mix it with traffic on Poplar High Street). Unfortunately it'll take you some time to reach it as you have to stop and wait at seven different shared crossings to get to the other side of the road


The ideal solution here would be a walking and cycling underpass linking the Greenway and CS3 under the A13 and also under Woolwich Manor Way, which would improve conditions for those on CS3 as well. An expensive solution but one that would be a routine upgrade for a junction like this in the Netherlands

Quietway 22 has brought a few small improvements to the Greenway, especially the lightning. However the lack of priority over roads and shared pavement facilities at Beckton and on Wick Lane at either end are a disappointment.

A safe, convenient traffic free walking and cycling route? Yes, the Greenway has been that for decades.

An increase under the Khan administration of the amount of protected space for cyclists, comparable to major road transformation projects such as those on Embankment, Whitechapel Road or Vauxhall Bridge under Boris Johnson? Absolutely not.




2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this impression of this impression of a route over a serious length in London. Could you add a map of the route with some marks where the pictures were taken?
    Thanks
    Theo

    ReplyDelete